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Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Belle Yang(Author)

    Book details


“A healing portrait drawn in epic ink strokes.”―Elle

When Belle Yang was forced to take refuge in her parents’ home after an abusive boyfriend began stalking her, her father entertained her with stories of old China. The history she’d ignored while growing up became a source of comfort and inspiration, and narrowed the gap separating her―an independent, Chinese-American woman―from her Old World Chinese parents.

In Forget Sorrow, Yang makes her debut into the graphic form with the story of her father’s family, reunited under the House of Yang in Manchuria during the Second World War and struggling―both together and individually―to weather poverty, famine, and, later, Communist oppression. The parallels between Belle Yang’s journey of self-discovery and the lives and choices of her grandfather, his brothers, and their father (the Patriarch) speak powerfully of the conflicts between generations―and of possibilities for reconciliation.

Forget Sorrow demonstrates the power of storytelling and remembrance, as Belle―in telling this story―finds the strength to honor both her father and herself.

With a lilting voice and a strongly etched fairy tale hand, writer/artist Yang weaves a riveting true-life tale of ancestral jealousies and familial woes from her father's recollections of growing up in China. Her book begins with Yang in her 20s, recently graduated from college but unable to get herself out into the world, wounded by self-doubt and bad memories of an ex-boyfriend turned stalker. Back living with her immigrant parents in Carmel, Calif., Yang listens to her father's stories about his grandfather, a man of wealth and stature whose many feuding sons left the family dismally ill-prepared for the winds of change that WWII and Mao's revolution sent violently whipping through the land. Betrayal and infighting pockmark these stories of woe, though they're buttressed with an appreciation of an uncle's Buddhist disavowal of material possessions or desires. Yang's story, which balances her own struggles with those of her ancestors without clumsily trying to equate them, echoes both with the tragic darkness of King Lear and the clean austerity of classical Chinese poetry. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Children's book illustrator-author Yang neatly layers family history across several generations in this graphic memoir. Returning to her parents in China in the wake of a stalking ex-boyfriend's threats, she attends to teasing out the details of family stories she has often heard but never deeply asked about. She wants to know how her grandfather's family dynamics during his youth echoed down the generations, the effects of Mao on the family's social as well as economic fortunes, the roles women have played and been denied traditionally, and her own father's progressive and loving attitudes. Rather than approaching this in a linear manner, Yang spins out the story in concentric eddies and whorls, an excellent reverberation of her black-ink style, with its repetitious patterns and unusual angles of vision. This is an excellent book for those intrigued by family stories or by the history of twentieth-century China as well as anyone who likes memoirs made more dynamic by incorporating more than just the writer's perspective on events. --Francisca Goldsmith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Book details

  • PDF | 256 pages
  • Belle Yang(Author)
  • W. W. Norton & Company (June 6, 2011)
  • English
  • 4
  • Biographies & Memoirs

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Review Text

  • By MYB on July 20, 2017

    Meh, it's okay. Actually, it's kind of boring. It's sitting half read by my bedside. I'll probably finish it at some point, but I'm in no rush, and maybe I won't. I was hoping for something along the lines of a Chinese Persepolis, but it's just kind of family history, with some father-daughter stuff, and I don't know, I just don't find it all that compelling, and I've read my share of graphic novels.

  • By Frank J. O'Connor on August 29, 2010

    This is a lovely tale of how the author's family negotiated its way through the whirlwind of violence of 20th century Chinese history. Violence without and selfishness and indifference within the family unit are the obstacles her father, uncles and grandparents face in trying to survive the warlords, the armies of Chiang Kai-shek and finally Mao's victorious Communists. It is especially interesting to see how first and second uncles try to overcome their sufferings in a revolutionary world through their ancient Toaist and Buddhist philosophies. This is a heartfelt graphic novel that would make an excellent introduction to the throes of mid-century Chinese history for those who are unfamiliar with the grim history of China in those tragic times.

  • By Nana on July 29, 2010

    Author Belle Yang has revealed insights into her own life and relationships and into the family relationships of her father with his siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in a traditional Chinese family compound and the changes wrought by the turbulent changes in Chinese society during and after World War II. She has accomplished this in a new-to-her cartoon format that is quite interesting and effective. Her drawings portray the character and emotions of the subjects of her book in a immediate fashion that would take longer to express in words alone.

  • By Volunteer bluebell on June 12, 2010

    Bought this for my sister, who likes this author - read it also, truly liked the way it was presented, though it seemed different at first, it worked very well.She tells the ale of her past and her family, with its ups and downs, and is an important picture of her world - and ours.

  • By John Wm Schiffeler on May 31, 2010

    Belle Yang has gone to considerable effort to tell a tale of familial love amidst a warring struggle for life itself and the need for personal self-identity and worth, to include coping with her own amorphous embodiment of terror, "Rotten Egg." This so-called "bogeyman" of irrational fear continues to haunt her until she realizes for herself that "the only thing one has to fear is fear itself." What makes this ancestral tale stand out from the countless others is her employment of manhua, or a kind of "storyboard" presentation that graphically gives her familial tale a visual reality. As is to be expected, this approach is bound to capture the immediate interests of those of this persuasion. My question is: How long will it last? I struggled through the clipped conversation with determination enjoying an occasionally nugget or two of heartfelt dialogue. I have no doubt that this book will be well received, especially by those with a penchant for the "touchy-feely" things in life. I have yet to read any other works by Belle Yang, and I would welcome this opportunity to place her writing in a more balanced perspective, with the hope there is a counterpoise.

  • By S.Dick on October 18, 2010

    have not read but it looks like a novel way of reading. The book arrived promptly and in good shape.

  • By Tim Lasiuta on May 19, 2010

    Wow! Belle Yang has created a masterful book that, as closely as possible, resembles a woodcut book with a deeply ancestral/familial feel. I am not Oriental, but through her thoughtful tale, as a reader I began and actually felt part of her story.That is the mark of a master story teller.From Xuan's personal experience of discovering her own history and sense of belonging, we are carried along a personal journey through generations of Yang family members. 20th Century China is seen through eyes of favoritism and opportunity, defeat and victory, subjugation and survival while a grandfathers' spiritual life (once respected) is diminished and once more valued almost 6 decades later.The stories of four children, intertwine much like a biblical parable, highlighting and teaching as we see from a distance, shortcomings and failures. There is selfishness, spirituality, and deception. There is also humility, pride, loyalty, and tradition.Sadly, stories like this are not restricted to Chinese ancestry. My own grandfathers' stories have not been told as they should have. I am sure that other readers can attest to the same regret. Our histories can re-define us, can mold us, and guide us."Forget Sorrow" should be on the must read book list for anyone seeking an introduction to illustrated fiction. More powerful than the Watchmen, or God Loves Man Kills, there is no substitute for stories of our pasts.[...]Tim Lasiuta


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